Should I Use Medicaid to Pay for My Hospital Bills After an Accident?

Nearly 70 million Americans receive Medicaid as of August 2020. If you’re one of them, it’s important to know the role it will play if you’ve been involved in an injury-causing accident.

If you are a Medicaid recipient then Medicaid will pay your medical bills at a greatly discounted rate. Because of that, it’s a good idea to use it to pay for all of your healthcare treatments, including after a car accident.

However, keep in mind that at Wagner Reese, it’s our goal to get you paid via the at-fault party and their insurance provider, which can ultimately result in more money for you and your loved ones than if you rely on Medicaid coverage alone.

Medicaid only pays for medical expenses relating to an injury and/or illness, it does not pay for other losses such as lost income, pain and suffering and physical impairments caused by a car accident. These losses are the responsibility of the at-fault party.

Medicaid Kicks in Right Away After You Get Hurt

Although the ultimate goal of personal injury lawyers like us is to get clients like you paid in full for their accident-related expenses, personal injury claims take time. Insurance companies rarely agree to pay victims all of the money they’re owed right away or without a fight, and that means claims can take several months to resolve.

But in the meantime, you’ll still receive bills from the hospital, ambulance service, and physical rehabilitation center. And if you aren’t working, you probably don’t have the money to pay for those bills, and you also shouldn’t have to dip into your savings or credit cards to pay off an accident that wasn’t your fault.

Thankfully, Medicaid kicks in as soon as you start receiving bills, and it pays those expenses at a significantly discounted rate. Although Medicaid is entitled to be repaid from any recovery, it is only entitled to recover a portion of the medical expenses it actually paid.  Since Medicaid pays those expenses at a government negotiated reduced rate, that means the injured person gets the care they need but at the reduced rate paid by Medicaid. 

In turn, that translates into a reduced amount that Medicaid can recover from any settlement with the at-fault party and their insurance provider.  Make sure to tell the hospital and other healthcare provider services to bill Medicaid instead of you. That means you may not see a single bill.

Medicaid Has a Claim to Some of Your Settlement Money

If you file a personal injury claim and win, you won’t get to keep all of the money AND have your medical bills paid by Medicaid. Instead, you’ll have to pay them back for the money they already paid towards your medical bills.

But as noted above, hospitals typically bill Medicaid at a discounted rate, and you’ll only have to pay back what Medicaid paid—not the full billed amount that the hospital would have charged you if you’d been paying out of pocket.  Additionally, in some circumstances under Indiana law, if Medicaid does not take certain statutorily required steps to protect their interest, Medicaid’s right to recover can be waived.

Why File a Personal Injury Claim if You Receive Medicaid?

If Medicaid will pay for your medical bills, why file a personal injury claim? It’s a good question with several good answers.

  • Your expenses could continue to pile up—Medicaid doesn’t pay you for future or anticipated costs. It only pays for the medical bills that you actually receive. In addition, not all healthcare-related costs are covered by Medicaid.
  • Your Medicaid doesn’t cover lost wages—Although Medicaid is typically offered to people in lower-income brackets, many still work and earn paychecks. But if your injury makes it impossible for you to work, your lost paychecks won’t be covered by Medicaid—only your medical bills will be.
  • Your pain and suffering deserve compensation, too—You were just involved in a traumatic accident that may have forever changed your life. You may be in significant pain and suffer from disabilities for the rest of your life, both of which can make it impossible to enjoy favorite activities or spending time with family. A personal injury claim can compensate you for these losses.

We’ll Help You Decide What’s Best for You

As a Medicaid recipient, there’s little risk in filing a personal injury claim after an accident. After all, almost all of your bills will already be paid by your Medicaid coverage. However, filing a claim can grant you access to additional funds that can cover all the other ways the accident affected your life for the worse.

However, the Indiana personal injury lawyers at Wagner Reese know that not all accident victims want to deal with an injury claim, especially when they’re hurting. When you contact us, we’ll collect the facts of what happened and help you make the right decision for your family.

And if we win your claim, we’ll help you pay back Medicaid in the most cost-efficient and effective manner possible. Call us today for a free consultation.